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SS Tweedcontrol

On Sunday morning I rode my bike (trusty; also, rusty) down to the Silver Spring metro (got called an asshole by a blind lady, which was both baffling and depressing, but that’s a story for another time) took the elevator there for the first time, and wheeled onto the platform only to see another dude in a tweed cap and tie. I nodded, he nodded. What we left unsaid: tweed ride.

Yes, the DC tweed ride. 300+ people in various states of tweed, released in small packs over the course of a blazing November morning to make DC streets a little scratchier. I saw dashed-off thrift store outfits; I saw perfectly tailored tweed suits; I saw yards and yards of tweed; I saw a good amount of general old-timey dress that wasn’t really tweed at all. There was a lot of imbalance in the amount of work someone spent on their bike and the amount spent on their tweeds. Some really incredible bikes; fewer really memorable tweed ensembles.

Photo: randomduck.

I’m a dabbler in both tweed and bikes so I wore a tweed cap and jacket with a wool tie and jeans. I think I looked sufficiently professorial without looking overly affected (a sliding scale in this crowd). I rode my 1980s Fuji road bike, which has been tuned up but otherwise not updated or fixed up by me—both a point of pride and a little shameful, as many of the other riders seemed to have built or rebuilt their vintage bikes into clean-riding urban machines of hipness.

Events like this veer dangerously toward self-parody—the media coverage seems to have both overstated the importance of the trend and smirked at it. The smirk was probably more justified than the pop culture psychoanalysis. Judging by the mix of people and the overwhelming smiliness of the whole thing, I don’t think many were taking themselves too seriously.

The ride itself was fantastic. I rarely get over to Capitol Hill and the neighborhoods were stunning and sun-dappled. Eastern Market was bustling. The capitol and federal buildings downtown gleamed. We tried a victory lap around Dupont, but the traffic was a little anticlimactic.

After sampling the punch at Marvin (for charity, of course), I red lined it back to Silver Spring and put the bike back in the shed, where it will probably spend most of the next 6 months, as it’s too dark to ride when I get home daily and weekends are full of bike ride (and hike, and reading, and general sit-down) pre-empting obligations. Dandies and Quaintrelles billed this as the semi-annual tweed ride, so sometime in April, about when I’m retiring the tweed to the back of the closet, it will be time for another ride to celebrate woolens, bikes, and DC.

Thanks to the organizers and I’ll be sure not to miss another DC tweed ride.

I may have been the only person there not taking pictures, which is just as well as I'm a terrible photographer. Great photos from the Washingtonian, as well as various photogs on flickr. You can spot me here and in a couple of photos by randomduck, who apparently led our peloton.

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